Madagascar, the DreamWorks Animation production is now playing in cinema theaters. I saw it this afternoon. I was laughing all the way through the movie. I wanted to write about it and say that it is a funny animation but now I am sitting here thinking: was it as good as I thought it was?
To tell you the truth Madagascar is a step up from Shark Tale but still it has not established a good story. It has a strong start and a funny structure but the ending is some how not an ending but I think they (the creators) simply have given up at the end. The pop-culture jokes are funny but how many people will really get the Twilight Zone reference when a lemur holds up a tome titled "To Serve Lemurs" and yells "It’s a cookbook!".
From the early years, animation cartoons have created a division between animals who are animals and animals who are human – at least human in the sense that they speak, sing, have personalities and are voiced by actors. Here this division is mixed up and is not as smooth as it should be.
Alex the lion (voice by Ben Stiller) lives a good life in the zoo, dining on steaks every day. His friends include Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith). If Alex likes it in the zoo, Marty wants to break out and live free.
The story is doing well until these characters are in the wild land of Madagascar, when there is a change in Alex’s personality forced by his hunger. He is no more a civilized-humanized lion, but a wild and hungry one who wants to eat his best friend Marty the zebra. Well as one can imagine how the creators of the story can make the kids be disappointed by letting the lion eat his friend, so the solution comes with a group of rebellious penguins: eat sushi instead of steak. And one should not forget the local population of Madagascar, a colony of lemurs, who are ruled by King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his right-paw-man Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer).
This is a kind of paradox that always lingers under the surface of animal cartoons. There is a moment when Madagascar seems poised on the brink of anarchy, as the law of the wild breaks down the detente of the zoo, and the animals revert to their underlying natures.
The movie is much too safe to follow its paradoxes to their logical conclusion. The problem is that once it gets them to the wild, it doesn't figure out what to do with them there, it becomes a confused plot.
Madagascar is funny, especially in the beginning, and good-looking in a cartoonish way, but when cartoons like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles exist, Madagascar is a throwback to a more conventional kind of animated entertainment. It is fine for smaller kids but not for their parents.